Since the release of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, wuxia films have clearly become a popular genre in Chinese filmmaking. Feng Xioagang's Legend of the Black Scorpion had all the ingredients to be a worthy successor of CTHD. However, the film's problem is its storyline.
Feng Xiaogang's film is a loose adaptation of William Shakespeare's play Hamlet. In 907 AD, the Tang dynasty is in decline. Li (Ge You) murders his brother, the Emperor. Afterwards, Li takes the power and also Empress Wan (Zhang Ziyi). Moreover, Li also dispatches assassins to kill Prince Wu Luan (Daniel Wu), who's in exile studying dance and music.
Because she loves the prince and she's only four years older than him, the Empress also sends assassins to protect the prince. Even in the palace, the prince also escapes all the Emperor's assassination plans. In order to celebrate the 100th day of his reign, the Emperor will organize a banquet. During this very day, both the prince and the Empress plan to put their own revenge in motion.
Personally, I'll take Legend of the Black Scorpion over Hamlet any day. This is because the former has great fight scenes.
Other than that, the other difference between Hamlet and this film is that the Empress is the central character. While the cast's performance was impeccable, the character of the Empress wasn't as developed as she should have been.
Zhang Ziyi, despite being blamed for her lack of experience, definitely managed to show how power-thirsty the Empress is. However, because of its lack of clarity, the story doesn't really tell how much the Empress is affected by the first Emperor's death. After all, because there was a time when royal marriages were arranged, it would have been really interesting to see that love is a royal couple isn't what many think it is.
Other than that, Legend of the Black Scorpion is a visually beautiful film that certainly could have beaten Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and many other great wuxia films.
|Starring:||Zhang Ziyi, Ge You, Daniel Wu and Xun Zhou|